Speed identifying, quality controls, 4th, 5th, 6th, IDs: community perspective?

Assuming it takes you ten seconds per identification, you’d have to spend four and a half hours identifying every day for thirty days. Most identifications take more than 10 seconds, too, unless you’re confirming an ID that’s already present.


@mws I can do an observation in about 2-3 seconds, so I take about 2 hours each day doing identifications. I can reach 50000 observations in a month, and even with my speed, there is someone faster than me(alanhorstmann)

I sometimes ponder why someone wants to be the 5th person to agree on an observation of an easily identified and common species. Is there some benefit to that for the identifier? I get that it’s okay to be the 5th person. I just wonder what the benefit it is.


If you’re spending such a tiny amount of time making the IDs, I hope you go back to fix the ones you got wrong, when someone tells you that you’ve done so?


but remember iNat counts as one ID
whether you are the umpteenth to confirm
or the second, agreeing, to Research Grade
or the only one who in fact ‘makes’ the initial ID.


I used to go through reptile observations and identify at ease for perhaps hours on end. However, I have been quite negligent concerning IDs lately. I only ID things I really want to, and I do it very slowly :)

I’m getting offtopic so why not go more offtopic. @mws, your profile picture looks like a Tachina fly I saw two of yesterday. I will need to find out what that is.

When I ID a lot of observations, I often get a ton of notifications, which then discourages me from making more IDs…

The fly in my forums profile picture is Hystricia abrupta

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@mws I always go back to observations that disagree with my identifications. Normally, for Saxifragales, which is my expertise, I have a near-perfect accuracy rate which is greater than 99.5% accurate. Normally when I see a suspicious observation I will check location and clarify many times to see if it is right. Notifications are not the biggest problem, and there is even someone who identifies more than me.

4th, 5th, and 6th IDs, in my opinion, are useful in limited circumstances. Those being if one is simply trying to bolster one’s ID count OR confirming a particularly rare organism, in the chance that there was some doubt as to that organism being the rare one vs a common one.

I don’t see adding the above IDs as completely useful to the iNaturalist system based on the fact that it might take away from IDing unknown/not RGed observations or observations with conflicting IDs.

Just my humble opinion on the matter.


See this thread for more discussion on the same topic: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/how-many-identifications-that-agree-are-enough-for-an-observation/13646


I can’t speak for everyone, but…
(1) way back when I first joined iNat, adding IDs was how I followed observations that looked interesting (before I knew how to follow)
(2) If there is an initial few wrong ID, I would agree with correct ones to help get community ID right. If the incorrect IDs are then deleted instead of withdrawn, then it can look like it was done without reason because the mavericks are no longer present (yes, there’s the bold explicit disagreement on the first dissenting ID - but that doesn’t reveal how many incorrect IDs it was disagreeing with)

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I’ve only been active on iNat for a month or so…so forgive my ignorance…this thread has gotten me thinking.

What is achieved by bolstering one’s ID count?

Is there a monetary incentive, or some level-up site reward that is associated with community members performing lightning fast identifications or achieving large numbers of identifications?

Could a user literally misidentify thousands of observations and simply walk away, leaving them incorrect…yet their Profile logs thousands of IDs and the community perceives them as valid?

[ Note: I am not saying this about @yayemaster, I’m generalizing. ]


There are people for whom appearing at the top of leaderboards etc is an important motivation. No value judgement intended, that is simply reality

None,there are no levels or anything like that all on the site. There are only 2 types of users on the site - users and curators who are a small group of people who help with site management, taxonomy management etc. They get no extra weighting for their ID’s or anything like that, nor is it granted based on your level of site participation. Some curators just do curating and contribute few if any records, most of the highest volume contributors of records or ID’s are not curators (it is less than 1% of the users on the site)


The incentive is if it interests you, or you enjoy helping to clear the backlog of Unknowns. An iNat marathon. With the Finish flag constantly edging away …


Yes, of course. Makes sense! I am so used to the Badges here in the Forum, I thought maybe IDers were competing for something similar.

I had never given speed a thought, probably because the majority of people IDing my observations, while on the Leaderboards, tend to add additional comments/engage in conversation w/ me - in other words, I doubt they’re concerned with speed. :blush:


yeah… but I’m talking about the 5th observation with no disagreement… by people who seem to want to accumulate the highest number of identifications of all time. My question is, what’s the benefit of accumulating thousands of ids when one’s ids isn’t helping with a disagreement or isn’t supporting a few suggestions and no one would likely disagree anyhow (that is, for example, it’s totally obvious to anyone who knows anything about birds)?

I’m going to point to cattailsandcobwebs post who is asking the questions I’m pondering.


It isn’t clearing the backlog of unknowns if you’re the 5th person to agree that’s a house sparrow.


Some things were mentioned in the thread I linked to (perhaps this one can be merged with it?):

  • a 3rd+ ID can make the community ID more secure in case of ignorant/malicious future IDs, or if the account (and associated IDs) of one of the earlier identifiers is deleted
  • reviewing Research Grade observations is helpful for finding misidentifications
  • the person doing the identifying is engaging with the observation and the iNat community
  • it boosts the identifier’s ID count
  • the identifier can add annotations at the same time while going through the observations, adding new information

However, the cons (especially for 5-8+ confirming IDs of a species that is easy to ID) are:

  • it’s extremely frustrating to overturn the community ID if all those identifiers were wrong (please help with Ferald and Berald, but make sure you know how to distinguish the relevant species ;) )
  • time and effort could be better spent identifying Needs ID observations (e.g. Unknowns, underidentified taxa such as insects) rather than redundant IDs on RG obs
  • an identifier who identifies thousands of obs of easy-to-ID species will show up high on the ID leaderboards, implying expertise
  • it can spam observers with notifications

So while it’s definitely not wrong, and there are some benefits, the general consensus seems to be that it can be frustrating and generally not super helpful.


Ferald should be a pretty easy ID, and Berald only needs a few more IDs to finally reach species

I will only add an ID if I feel it makes a difference.
2 already agree? Next.
1 for, 2 against - if I can, I will add my vote to help tip the balance.

I move on smartly to what I can work with. The ‘speed’ I work at is my choice. We each add something different. Others can and do work more slowly - which I respect and value. Particularly the ones who take the time to explain their ID.